CPUC programs related to distributed generation resources.

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CPUC Proposes Major BioMAT Changes

In early March, the CPUC released a revised Staff Proposal on the BioMAT program.  The Staff Proposal contains 15 separate and significant proposals to revise the BioMAT program.  Generally, the proposals are quite helpful and some – extending the program end date – are absolutely critical.  The most significant recommendations in the Staff Proposal would:

  • Extend the BioMAT program end date from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2025;
  • Make the program statewide, allowing other purchasers of BioMAT power, instead of limiting it to the three investor-owned utilities;
  • Provide greater operational flexibility and reduce some of the excessive penalty provisions;
  • Extend the time allowed for projects to begin commercial operation;
  • Set deadlines for utilities to execute contracts; and
  • Require projects to provide lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions analyses

See CPUC’s BioMAT Staff Proposal (March2020)

BAC Comments on CPUC Microgrid Proposal

BAC’s comments on the CPUC Staff Proposal on Microgrids focus on the need to include bioenergy and biogas in microgrids.  Relying on solar and batteries alone limits the duration that microgrids can operate.   Bioenergy can extend the duration of microgrids and make them much more reliable by providing a fuel source for backup generators, flexible generation that can fill in around solar and batteries, energy storage, and other grid services.

See R.19-09-009 BAC Comments on ALJ Ruling and Staff Proposal

CPUC Releases Staff Proposal on Microgrids

SB 1339 (Stern 2018) requires the California Public Utilities Commission to adopt a measures to accelerate the development of microgrids to ensure reliable electricity supplies during Public Safety Power Shutoffs and other grid disturbances.  Microgrids are especially important to keep the power on for emergency and essential services.  The CPUC Staff Proposal for short-term actions that can help microgrids before the 2020 fire season focuses very narrowly on microgrids powered by solar and batteries, which are not sufficient for long-duration outages and will not be effective under all circumstances.

See the ALJ Ruling and Staff Proposal on Microgrids Track 1

BAC Comments on CPUC Microgrid Proceeding

BAC submitted comments in late October on the CPUC’s Order Instituting Rulemaking.  BAC urged the Commission to address the need for baseload and flexible generation, to consider opportunities to convert local organic waste to local energy supplies, to include renewable gas for microgrid reliability, to consider the importance of Short-Lived Climate Pollutant reductions, and to consider other upstream benefits like wildfire mitigation and landfill reduction.  BAC’s comments are on BAC’s website.

The CPUC is expected to issue the Scoping Ruling in early 2020 and to complete the development of the microgrid framework by the end of 2020.

See R.19-09-009 BAC Comments on OIR

CPUC Opens New Proceeding on Microgrids

In September, the CPUC launched a new proceeding to develop a policy framework for microgrids.  Microgrids are defined areas of the grid that can operate as part of the larger grid and can also be completely disconnected from (operate independently from) the larger electricity grid.  Microgrids include the energy producers, transmission and distribution lines, and energy end users that are within a defined electricity boundary.  The goal of establishing microgrids is to enable communities to have a fully independent grid that can operate even when there are disturbances to the regional grid.  The recent Public Safety Power Shutoffs have underscored the urgency of developing microgrids, especially for essential services like firefighters and police, hospitals, wastewater treatment, communications, and more.

The CPUC launched the new proceeding to develop the framework for commercializing microgrids.  It will consider the appropriate standards, eligible technologies, rates, tariffs and other issues for microgrid development in California.

See the CPUC’s Order Instituting this new Rulemaking:  OIR on Microgrids Rulemaking (R.19-09-009)

BAC Members Receive Forest Service Wood Innovation Grants !!

Congratulations to BAC members Camptonville Community Partnership, CLERE, Inc., and the Mariposa Biomass Project, which were among 39 projects around the country to receive Wood Innovation Grants from the U.S. Forest Service.  The grants will help to develop much-needed forest biomass projects in local communities.  These projects will help to reduce the risks and spread of wildfire, provide renewable energy, reduce air pollution and climate emissions from burning of forest waste, and increase community resilience by providing jobs and local energy supplies.

Click here to learn more about the projects and the grants.

CPUC Orders Utilities to Execute BioMAT Contracts

Despite numerous Orders and direction from CPUC staff, PG&E and the other utilities were delaying executing a dozen BioMAT contracts that have been pending since last fall.  The CPUC rejected a motion by PG&E to suspend the BioMAT program, but then PG&E claimed that a federal court decision on the ReMAT program justified the utility’s continuing refusal to sign BioMAT contracts.  After reviewing the Winding Creek decision and parties’ comments on it, the CPUC ordered the utilities – yet again – to continue BioMAT contract execution.  The CPUC issued Resolution E-4922 on March 22, ordering PG&E and other utilities to continue BioMAT procurement and contract execution.

See CPUC’s Revised BioMAT Resolution (E-4992)